Making the nation proud, a Class XII student of Ahlcon Public School in New Delhi discovered a new comet using data from NASA and European Space Agency’s spacecraft-based observatory that studies the Sun.
Discovered by Prafull Sharma — member of a world-wide team of comet hunters who scour through images of the Sun transmitted back to Earth by Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) — the new comet (SOHO 2333) is a fragment believed to have separated from a relatively larger comet Machholz when it last came close to the Sun in 2007.
The British Astronomical Association also confirmed the find and included it in their list of newly discovered comets. SOHO comets are small comets that are usually found in close proximity of the Sun. Most of these comets crash into the Sun and are never seen again. However, SOHO 2333 appears to he similar to its parent comet Machholz and its orbit will be determined by the International Astronomical Union.
“Discoveries like this are really crucial to help us understand the dynamic nature of comet population, and can help us infer the properties of comets — the left-over debris from the building of our solar system,” said a SOHO Moderator for the Sungrazer programme.
Ironically, comet hunters do not get to name the comets they discover nor do they get monetary rewards.